THE fifth-generation Honda Civic Type R has tarmac scorching numbers which was underlined by a lap record for the fastest front-wheel-drive car at the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit in Germany in April last year.
Built as a rip-roaring, riotous steed for speed demons, Honda’s marketing spiel for the performance hot hatch is “Exhilarating speed meets street-smart practicality.”
We have driven the third-generation Civic Type R which arrived here in 2007, and that was a veritable monster in a four-door sedan body with a powerful 225PS/215Nm 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine matched to a six-speed close ratio manual transmission with limited slip differential.
This new Civic Type R, on the other hand, is a street fighter in a five-door hatchback body and is vastly more powerful with a 310PS/400Nm 2.0-litre VTEC turbocharged engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox again.
This Civic Type R has the biggest footprint compared with its predecessors, and its aggressive silhouette which only comes in one colour option - Championship White, is really a head-turner on the road.
The muscular, taut lines and pronounced wheel arches, the carbon fibre effect splitter in front, and the three tailpipes - all these make for a very distinct visual statement that naturally draws the eyes.
Its classic hot hatch styling cues aren’t all designed for visual effect; its muscular body has a best-in-class balance between lift and drag, thus providing improved high speed stability.
Its overall aerodynamic profile helps to ‘suck’ the car onto the road, and overall drag coefficient is reduced by three per cent compared to the previous Civic Type R.
The lightweight aluminium bonnet with an integrated air duct, is 5.3kg lighter than the steel bonnet on the standard Civic hatchback in Europe.
This Civic Type R is produced in Swindon, England with its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine sourced from the United States.
At the rear, the smaller centre tailpipe helps to produce a louder sporty exhaust roar as you pick up speed, but at mid-load engine speeds, it helps to reduce the exhaust booming sound which can be harsh on the ears.
In any case, even at low speeds, there’s no mistaking the aggressive and hungry growl of the car which keeps enticing you to push it all the way to the 7,000rpm redline.
The interior is a nicely designed mix of red and black fabric seats, a smooth spherical gear lever knob made from machined alloy, and practical touches like automatic air conditioning as well as a touch screen for phone connectivity, audio controls, vehicle settings, and some apps like Calculator and image/video gallery.
The driver can tweak the Driver Information Interface to show data like average fuel consumption, remaining travel range, average speed, and engine lubricant life span.
You also get one touch powered up/down function only for front windows, a 1.0A USB port, a 1.5A USB port, a HDMI port and a 12V/180W power outlet.
The high-backed front sports seats provide very solid lower back support, and are just the sort of seats you want on a long journey or to take a short nap in.
The driver also gets improved forward visibility, thanks to thinner A pillars and a more compact dashboard upper surface that sits 65mm lower than its predecessor.
To summarise, the Civic Type R offers class leading interior space (for a hot hatch) and a fair bit of nice kit.
Thanks to the larger footprint, there is a more spacious cabin which feels quite roomy.
There is a deep and spacious central bin to store items between the front seats, while the electric parking brake saves space and also, provides the convenience of automatic brake hold during traffic congestion.
You will also find door bins on all four side doors, as well as a decent 420-litre boot, with a removeable tonneau cover.
There are more storage options with a cup holder in front, and a compartment below the touchscreen and air conditioning controls.
Rear seats split or fold 60:40 for a spacious 786 litres of storage space and the flat boot floor makes loading and storing wide and long items easy.
As a family hatchback, it is well designed with comfortable seats and lots of storage spaces.
However, there are no front or rear parking sensors and one really needs to be careful when parking this car as you do not want to incur costly repairs or inconvenient insurance claims.
- Six airbags
- Rear seat ISOFIX points
- Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA)
- Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
- Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD)
- Auto Brake Hold (ABH)
- Brake Assist (BA)
- Hill Start Assist (HSA)
- LED headlights
- Automatic headlights
- LED daytime running lights
- LED front fog lights
- Type R rear wing
- Type R triple exhaust with finisher
- Drive Mode Switch (Comfort, Sport, +R)
- Rev Match system
- Walk Away auto lock
- Smart Entry with push startbButton
- Cruise control
- Full colour LCD meter
- Dual zone air conditioning
- Touch Panel air conditioning control
- Alloy shift knob
- Alloy pedals
- Type R leather sport steering wheel
- Type R sport seats
- Tonneau cover
- Rear foldable 60:40 seats
- 7-inch touchscreen
- MP3 / iPod
- Two USB ports and one HDMI port
- Hands-free telephone (HFT)
- Eight audio speakers
The car bursts into menacing life once you step on the clutch pedal and push the engine push-start button.
The default driving mode is Sport mode, and the car offers two other modes - Comfort and the track focussed +R mode.
Each driving mode adjusts the adaptive dampers, steering force, gear shift feel and throttle response of the car.
In Comfort mode, the steering feels a bit less taut and the car’s blistering energy seems to be slightly muted.
But no matter what mode you choose, the Civic Type R always feels like a Batmobile bursting into heart-pounding action.
The performance numbers are from the 2.0-litre VTEC turbocharged engine is simply mouth-watering; 310PS at 6,500rpm, and peak torque of 400Nm from 2,500rpm to 4,500rpm.
This translates into a 0 to 100kph sprint in just 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 272kph; meaning it is both the fastest sprinter and quickest car in its class.
During a drive on the German Autobahn last year, it was all too easy to reach nerve-racking speeds in this high octane marvel of engineering.
Driving a six-speed stick shift has never been easier with gearbox’s rev-matching technology, which eliminates undesirable transmission “shock” during excessive or insufficient revving.
Ride and Handling
The Civic Type R provides an awesome driving experience, and takes corners with the grip like a lizard stuck in glue.
Torque steer (under hard acceleration, a front-wheel drive car has a tendency to pull to one side) is much reduced thanks to a new dual-axis strut front suspension, and you can really drive confidently through the corners at unbelievable speeds.
This is also thanks to the wider track and high performance Continental SportContact 6 tyres sized 245/30 R20, a lower centre of gravity, higher body rigidity, and various aerodynamic improvements.
Body roll is hardly felt at high speeds in corners, and there is a lot of precision which allows you to have plenty of motoring fun.
The Civic Type R is built and designed to largely forgive mistakes and lack of driver training, in situations where one can easily get carried away with enthusiasm.
The powerful Brembo brake package with red callipers is marvellous, and work well in slowing and stopping the 1,391kg car.
However, regardless of the driving mode, the ride quality is still quite hard and on irregular surfaces, our passengers complained about it being quite harsh and bone jarring.
7.7 litres per 100km (combined cycle)
- Five years warranty with unlimited mileage
- Free Labour Service applicable up to 5 times within 100,000km or 5 years
RM301,928 without insurance (0% GST)
Yes, it can be as gentle as a kitten, albeit one that growls hungrily and keeps wanting to run at dazzling speeds, but it is definitely not very comfortable on the many irregular surfaces and rut peppered roads in the Klang Valley.
We were told in no uncertain terms by close associates who are used to their docile family rides not to ever look for them, if we are driving this race-bred machine.
It can seat five people and there are nice kit like ISOFIX points for child seats, automatic headlights, a space-saving electric parking brake with Auto Hold function, a 7-inch touchscreen mated to eight audio speakers and lots of cubby holes to store items like phones, power banks and water bottles.
All very civilised and family-friendly indeed, but it’s when you are seated in the driver’s seat and the car growls angrily to life, after you push the push-start button and step on the clutch pedal, that you begin to realise this is not the sort of car the typical family would use.
And when the car takes off at frightening speeds in the default Sport mode with some really loud exhaust roar, as you let loose the speed demon that’s been waiting impatiently, and take road curves at seemingly impossible velocities and still stay amazingly planted, that you understand why this is the most extreme Civic Type R yet.
The latest Civic Type R is a intoxicating and heady brew, which is best experienced for exhilarating adrenaline rushes on the track.
Gallery: 2018 Honda Civic Type R